CyberLink’s PowerDirector used to be a rather limited video editing software that was bundled with everything under the sun, from graphics cards to optical drives. But the company’s strong video patent portfolio and determination has lifted PowerDirector slowly and surely towards being taken seriously alongside the alternatives from Adobe, Corel / Ulead and Avid / Pinnacle. PowerDirector 10 is still the consumer video editing application with the most comprehensive support for 3D. With PowerDirector 11, however, CyberLink hopes to climb yet another rung up the ladder, and potentially topple its competitors.
CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Applications
The biggest news about PowerDirector 11 is that CyberLink has branched out to include two additional helper applications, ColorDirector and AudioDirector. We will be looking at the features of these two newcomers, which can also be purchased and used standalone, later in this review. For now, suffice it to say that ColorDirector brings features you would normally expect to see in a high-end video tool like Adobe After Effects, whilst AudioDirector provides powerful audio facilities akin to Adobe Audition or SoundForge. Used alongside PowerDirector 11, they both provide round-trip editing, where you can call them from within PowerDirector, with any changes you make being reflected back to the host app. This is broadly similar to Adobe’s DynamicLink, and makes ColorDirector and AudioDirector essentially function as super-powerful plug-ins.
However, the new apps are only included in the new, more expensive PowerDirector Ultimate and Director Suites, which cost £199.99 and £239.99 respectively, pushing the price for PowerDirector into new territory which not many video applications have inhabited for some years. If you purchase the PowerDirector 11 Director Suite bundle, you also get the increasingly powerful PhotoDirector, now in its fourth incarnation.
With such powerful new capabilities on hand from these two new additions, the main PowerDirector application doesn’t feel like it has quite such significant enhancements on its own. The interface isn’t noticeably different from the previous incarnation, with the fact that media library thumbnails can be resized easily using a slider being the most obvious enhancement. There have been some noticeable improvements under the hood, however. The rendering engine already seemed to support every hardware acceleration available. In version 10, aside from being 64-bit and multithreaded, to make the most of a multi-core CPU, it was accelerated by OpenCL and CUDA, so could harness the power of most recent AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards.
With version 11, PowerDirector can also harness multiple graphics cards, including Intel HD 3000 and 4000 integrated graphics alongside a discrete graphics chispet. There's also optimisation for AMD second-generation APUs as well as Fusion and Vision. However, only a portion of PowerDirector's effects are GPU-accelerated. We found scrubbing and playback pretty slick when we did use accelerated effects, although this will vary depending on the host hardware. Our test system was packing a 2.2GHz quad-core AMD Phenom 9550 with 6GB of DDR3 SDRAM and NVIDIA Quadro FX 1700 graphics, so a relatively modest specification by today's standards. But the software was very usable even with multiple layers of AVCHD test footage.